Urban Farm Updates, April 13th 2017
Fun on the Farm!
So, most of us know that bee keepers often use smoke to “calm” the bees, and enable the handler to access the hive for honey collection and maintenance. But why smoke, and how does it work? Smoke disables the bees ability to smell, while it also triggers their survival response. The bees’ instinct when exposed to smoke, it that there is a forest fire and they must take action to flee and save the hive. They gorge themselves on honey, and then fly away from the hive. This overeating habit, makes the bees more lethargic, and also swells their abdomen to the degree that they are incapable of stinging anyone. 10 to 20 minutes after the smoke is removed the bees ability to smell returns, and they often return to the hive within 30 minutes of the smoking.
What’s Growing on?
I guess the best place to start, is with Atlas Organics, because they donated some beautiful, fabulous, oh-so-amazing compost to us last week, and I cannot say enough praise about their product and their delivery driver! Eddie, my goodness, that man is not only an incredible truck driver, he is a just plain awesome! He somehow managed to back a tractor trailer (yes people, a 60 foot trailer), into the Urban Farm driveway, to deliver 23 cubic yards of the best smelling composted material!
It took almost an hour, but he never gave up, and he got it in there without running over the fence or destroying the truck! Unbelievable!! I am in awe! I have so much appreciation for the work that truck drivers do, and this is no exception! So, thank you so so soooo much, Eddie and everyone at Atlas Organics! Anyone that is familiar with the layout of the Urban Farm will understand how much of a feat this was!!
The rest of last week and earlier week was full of farm inspections, meetings, farm tours and environmental classes; including preparing for the Spartanburg Water Volunteer Day on the 22nd of April. So, some of the things that I had to do was order some of the coolant supplies, fans etc for the greenhouse, so that the crew can help me to install them. Needless to say, they all came in at once, so our office is now jam packed with gigantic boxes that I have to ferry over to the farm… So, I came into the office Monday morning, and ran face first into a box, before I turned all of the lights on! Well, if I wasn’t awake before…… Then I spend much of the day working at the farm and preparing for the class that I will be hosting on Saturday.
Have you ever seen an old black and white film where all of the cast are moving in fast forward passing buckets from one another to put out a fire, while one guy at the end sloppily fills the pails with water from the closest source of water, like a lake or water spigot? Well, that was us HCFM staff on Tuesday afternoon…. Except we were watering crops, not putting out a fire! I was on day 4 of going without water at the Urban Farm, and in the Greenhouse, I was in crisis aversion mode. We were filling 5 gallon buckets with water as fast as we could and trucking them down to the greenhouse, to hand water the several thousand plants I currently have in the greenhouse.
I also got a bag of Vermiculite to play around with from Palmetto Vermiculite, and so I will also be testing out this week, playing with different concentration combinations in soil, to measure water absorption and retention. I have never worked with pure vermiculite before, only ever dealt with it in prepared soil mixes, and so far, I really like it! I am very impressed with the water retention abilities, and am excited to be able to incorporate some vermiculite into the compost from Atlas Organics, when we build all of the new grow structures at the farm on the 22nd.
I also spent some time this week harvesting produce from the farm, including the first harvest of Collards and Kale, for 2017!